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She's Still A Beauty: Celebrating Sixty Years Of Holden Cars

GM Holden
19 November 2008
www.holden.com.au

GM Holden will mark the 60th anniversary of Australia’s first locally developed car, the Holden 48-215 on Saturday 29 November 2008.

The first 48-215 rolled off the line at Holden’s Fishermans Bend headquarters on 29 November 1948, at which point Prime Minister Ben Chifley famously told reporters: “She’s a beauty.”

A gala launch event attended by more than 1000 dignitaries signalled the arrival of ‘the car made in Australia, for Australia’ and the beginning of a new era in local motoring.

Since that day, GM Holden has built more than seven million vehicles and more than 10 million engines for local and overseas sale.

More than 780,000 GM Holden vehicles have been sent around the world in five decades and more than four million export engines in 27 years, representing Australia’s largest automotive export program.

Australia’s oldest automotive enterprise grew from a saddlery business established by James Alexander Holden in 1856. The company merged with General Motors in 1931.

GM Holden Chairman and Managing Director Mark Reuss today said the company had become a symbol of local design and engineering expertise and Australia’s ability to compete on the world stage.

“Since the 48-215 was introduced to Australian roads 60 years ago, the Holden name has become synonymous with local ingenuity,” Mr Reuss said.

“Ongoing development and a commitment to making cars for local driving conditions has seen Holden forge a special place in the hearts and minds of Australian families.

“Significant advances in safety technology including standard driver, passenger and side impact airbags, computer optimised restraint systems and ABS brakes were introduced by Holden as ‘firsts’ for Australian-manufactured cars.

“But as we celebrate our proud past, we are busy planning for the future, developing more alternative fuel and fuel saving technologies that reduce Australia’s dependence on foreign oil.

“It is about making Holden the smarter choice for Australian motorists, producing cars that are cheaper to run and better for the environment.”

In 2008, GM Holden builds on 12 consecutive years of Commodore as Australia’s top-selling

passenger vehicle and export programs to USA, Brazil, Korea, South Africa, New Zealand, Middle East, UK and Canada.

GM Holden’s major operating facilities are located at Fishermans Bend in Victoria, a site which houses Holden’s technical centre, administration and engine plants.

Also in Victoria are the company’s spare parts operations in Dandenong and automotive Proving Ground at Lang Lang. Holden’s vehicle manufacturing facility is in Elizabeth, South Australia.


GM HOLDEN MILESTONES – 1850s TO 2000s AND BEYOND

The 1800s

1854 19 year-old Englishman, James Alexander Holden, arrives in Adelaide, South Australia.

1856 James Alexander Holden establishes a leatherwork and saddlery business, J.A. Holden & Co., in King William St, Adelaide.

1859 Birth of J.A. Holden's eldest son, Henry J. Holden.

1865 J.A. Holden & Co. expands, moves to bigger Adelaide premises.

1878 Further expansion sees the addition of a new business: the repair and renovation of horse-drawn carriages.

1879 20 year-old Henry J. Holden joins the company, now called J.A. Holden & Son.

1885 Harness and carriage maker Henry A. Frost becomes a partner and the firm is named Holden & Frost. Henry J. Holden is the senior partner. Goods manufactured include harnesses, saddlery, travel goods, gun cases, whips, crops and vehicle hardware.

1897 Death of James A. Holden. Holden & Frost becomes a major supplier of harnesses, saddlery, belts and other Boer War equipment under government contract.

20th Century

1905 A third generation Holden, Henry's eldest son, Edward W. Holden, joins the business.

1908 In the US, the General Motors Corporation is formed. It includes the Buick Company, Oldsmobile, Oakland and Cadillac.

1910 Holden & Frost open a motor trimming department, the products marketed as Holdfast Trimmings.

1913 Holden & Frost begins production of complete motorcycle sidecar bodies.

1914 Holden & Frost produces its first custom-made car body. The GM Export Company appoints its first field representative in Australia; import of the first GM cars begins shortly afterwards.

1917 The Australian Federal Government's wartime trade restrictions (decreeing that only one complete car be imported for every three chassis) leads to a decision by Holden & Frost to commence large-scale production of car bodies. Holden Motor Body Builders is set up as a division of Holden & Frost, with Henry J. Holden appointed as Chairman and Edward W. Holden as Managing Director. It begins design and manufacture of a standardised car body for Buick and Dodge chassis.

1918 Holden's Motor Body Builders Ltd (HMBB) becomes a registered company. Annual car body output for various makes reaches 587. Business booms as the use of state-of-the-art machinery and innovative techniques ensures a competitive product.

The Twenties

1920 HMBB builds an impressive reputation and bodies for Dodge, Buick, Ford, Chevrolet, Studebaker, Overland, Hupmobile, Essex, Durant and Dort - and some European marques.

1923 Holden's employs over 1,000 workers and produces 240 car bodies a week – more than half the national output. Holden plans the country's most modern production line

at a new facility in Woodville, SA, and gains exclusive rights to assemble GM cars in Australia at this plant.

1924 Holden begins production at Woodville, continues making bodies for other chassis importers at its original, now extended, King William St, Adelaide, plant. Total annual

production of 22,150 units includes 11,060 for GM.

1925 Holden's body-building operation produces over 34,000 units, including the first closed body types. With a workforce of 2,600 and 16 hectares of factory floor, it is the largest outside North America and continental Europe. In addition, HMBB turns out tram and bus bodies and railway carriages.

1926 Henry J. Holden dies and his son Edward Holden is appointed Chairman and Managing Director. General Motors Australia Pty Ltd (GMA) is formed. It has headquarters in Melbourne and soon opens assembly plants in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

1928 Holden's now-famous 'lion and stone' symbol, which represents the legend of man's invention of the wheel, is first employed.

The Thirties

1930 Australia feels the full effect of worldwide economic depression and Holden, having just completed a major expansion, is caught off-guard. Motor body orders plummet and attempts at diversification fail.

1931 General Motors purchases Holden Motor Builders and merges it with General Motors ( Australia) Pty Ltd to form General Motors-Holden's Ltd (GM-H). Sir Edward Holden is the company's first Chairman. A.N. Lawrence is Managing Director.

1934 Laurence J. Hartnett, a former Director of Vauxhall, takes up duties as Managing Director.

1935 Holden produces its first 'All Enclosed Coupe' for Oldsmobile, Pontiac and Chevrolet chassis. Dubbed 'The Sloper' this uniquely Australian design is the forerunner of the hatchback. Holden builds its first all-steel bodies.

1936 GM-H sets up new headquarters and a new assembly plant at Fishermen’s Bend, Melbourne, on 20 hectares of land. The facility is opened by the Prime Minister, Joseph Lyons.

1937 Holden produces 32,489 vehicles, claiming 40 per cent of the market. Overall profit exceeds £1 million for the first time. Hartnett and GM-H executives discuss manufacture of a complete car within Australia.

1938 Holden installs the country's largest metal stamping press, at Woodville, South Australia.

1939 The investigation into building an Australian car intensifies. Several designs are contemplated and a study known as Project 2200 commences. Construction begins on a new assembly plant at Pagewood, NSW. When war is declared in September, Holden places its plants, personnel and facilities at the disposal of the Federal Government.

The Forties

1942 Holden's wartime workforce, peaking at 12,000 in 1942, operates from seven plants nationwide and turns out supplies for Australian and US armed forces. Items produced include aero and marine engines, aero assemblies, marine craft, and over 200 types of vehicles, among them ambulances, armoured cars and Blitz trucks.

1943 With military contracts slowing, GM-H begins work on a design study, 'Project 2000'. Experience and skills gained from wartime production, with the technical support of the parent company put GM-H in a good position to take on the challenge of building Australia's first successfully mass-produced car.

1944 A 'Project 2000' prototype is produced; many variations and alternative designs are considered. Laurence Hartnett sells to General Motors the concept of all-Australian manufacture.

1945 The Project 2000 car design evolves into 'Project 2200'. GM-H engineers and technicians travel to the US to study manufacturing operations and assist with design and construction of experimental prototypes based on GM's 195-Y-15 six cylinder light car project.

1946 A joint US-Australian team in Detroit produces three handmade prototypes of the Australian car. All are shipped to Australia, complete with detailed project plans and accompanied by engineering project team members. Harold E. Bettle is appointed Managing Director.

1947 The prototypes are exhaustively tested for durability and reliability on public roads, component modifications are undertaken. All GM-H departments are asked to submit suggested names for the car. Short-list favourites include CANBRA, GMH, GMA, GEM, LION and HOLDEN. £1,200,000 is spent on mechanical fabrication, engine and transmission manufacture and foundry facilities at Fishermans Bend. £750,000 is spent on fabrication equipment, presses and a new paint shop at Woodville.

1948 The first production schedule is finalised on 5 April, the first body is completed at Woodville in July. The name 'HOLDEN' is announced. The model's engineering prefix is 48-215. It is later nicknamed 'FX', to distinguish it from its FJ successor. Holden Number One (body No.6) is the first production-ready car to come off the Fishermans Bend line, on 1 October. 1,200 official guests, headed by the Prime Minister, Mr Ben Chifley, attend the public announcement of ' Australia's Own Car' on 29 November at Fishermans Bend. The ceremony also marks the inauguration of the Australian automotive industry. 26,000 GM-H employees and family members preview the new model at Open House gatherings at plants nationwide, Holden dealers and distributors attend special launches. Initial production capacity averages 10 vehicles a day.

1949 Demand for the 48-215 far outstrips supply and waiting lists are oversubscribed. GM-H aims at annual production of 20,000 units.

The Fifties

1950 Production lifts to 100 units per day to reach an annual total of 20,113 vehicles. $43 million is paid to outside suppliers of components, materials and services. New vehicle registrations in Australia total 206,087 - almost 70 per cent up on the previous year. Total sales of GM-H products exceed the 1949 total by 60 per cent.

1951 Production rate reaches 100 units a day. Total 48-215 production passes 50,000 units. The first Holden 'Coupe Utility', the 50-2106, is launched; PVC interior trims are introduced. GM-H buys 152 acres at Dandenong, Victoria for future expansion programs.

1952 On Holden's fourth birthday, GM-H announces an £11 million expansion program designed to raise output to 200 units a day. Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide plants are to be enlarged and modernised, production efficiency and quality levels lifted. Holden annual sales reach 32,000. The Holden Business Sedan, with heavy duty items for taxi and fleet use, is introduced in July.

1953 The famous FJ Holden is launched in September. Based on record sales, GM-H makes the largest profit in its history and creates 1,700 new jobs. Earl C. Daum is appointed Managing Director.

1954 Further expansion plans are announced. The aim is to produce 72,000 units per annum. Exports of fully built up Holdens to New Zealand begin in November. Australian vehicle registrations are the highest ever recorded, and one in every three vehicles on Australian roads is a GM-H product. Seven GM-H plants employ 13,822 people.

1955 While Holden passenger cars accounted for 26.95 per cent of all registrations and the Holden Ute has a 32.1 per cent share, market leader GM-H reports that these figures did not reflect true demand as availability was limited by production. 1,341 Holdens are exported. 2,152 acres of land are selected at Lang Lang, Victoria, and plans to construct 'a modern and completely equipped proving ground' - Australia's first - commence. Work begins on the Dandenong (Vic) plant.

1956 It is 100 years since James Alexander Holden set up a saddlery business in Adelaide. In January, the 250,000th Holden (an FJ) is built and the tubeless tyre is introduced. The new Dandenong body and assembly plant opens. The first entirely new Holden since the 48-215, the FE, is launched in July following four years of development and a £4 million investment. CKD (completely knocked down) Holden packs are exported to New Zealand for the first time. Holdens are shipped to Thailand, Malaya and North Borneo.

1957 The first Holden station sedan, based on the FE sedan, is produced in March.4,500 Holdens are exported to 17 markets, which include Hong Kong, Sudan and East Africa. GM-H achieves a new sales record, increases its share of total registrations to 46.3 per cent. The Lang Lang proving ground commences operations in August. The one millionth car body is produced at the Woodville plant. NASCO parts operation commences at Dandenong.

1958 A £9 million expansion of plant and manufacturing facilities, aimed at increasing annual production to 125,000 units, is announced. Planning of a new facility at Elizabeth, S.A., begins. The FC Holden is launched in May. Holden passenger cars account for 47.4 per cent of total registrations, the Holden Ute records 49.6 per cent of the light commercial market. The total number of Holdens produced exceeds 500,000. Employee numbers reach 18,699 - an increase of over 10,000 in 10 years. Work begins on a banked, circular high-speed test track at the Lang Lang proving ground.

1959 Total exports since 1954 exceed 14,000. Assembly of CKD Holden Ute commences in Indonesia and South Africa. New Body Hardware plant at Elizabeth (S.A.) begins production. The first transistor car radios are offered as an option. Harlow W. Gage is appointed Managing Director

The Sixties

1960 FB Holden is launched in January. Holden sales top 12,000 per month. Left-hand drive production for export markets begins, the first shipment to Hawaii follows.

1961 The EK Holden is launched in May.

1962 A new body assembly plant opens at Elizabeth and a new 6-cylinder engine plant at Fishermans Bend nears completion. The EJ Holden is launched in July. When the millionth Holden, a gold EJ Premier, is built at Dandenong in October, it is estimated that if these cars were placed bumper to bumper they would stretch from Geraldton (W.A.) to Townsville (Qld). David L. Heglund is appointed Managing Director.

1963 A new engine plant and foundry commence operations at Fishermans Bend; capacity is 700 engines a day. Further expansion plans, with a 175,000 annual production target, are announced. Elizabeth (SA) trim assembly plant and paint shop commence operations. The EH Holden is introduced in August. GM-H retains sales leadership for 12th successive year, sets new sales records. Dealers and distributors with Holden franchises operate in 59 export territories, exports total 10,798 units.

1964 GM-H employee total reaches 23,914. A new Technical Centre opens at Fishermans Bend. It houses over 900 designers, engineers, draftsmen, modellers, technicians and skilled tradesmen and provides state-of-the-art automotive design and development facilities. Trim fabrication plant commences operation at Elizabeth (SA). Construction of Acacia Ridge (Qld) plant commences. The EH is the best-selling Holden model thus far (250,000 units).

1965 The radical new HD model is introduced in February. Holden retains long-term sales leadership record, outselling its nearest competitor by more than 3:1. One out of every three cars on Australian roads is a Holden. Exports increase by 41 per cent to total 19,369 units. A new, mechanised grey iron foundry at Fishermans Bend begins pouring. The 1,500,000th Holden is produced, at the Pagewood Plant, Sydney. Australian content exceeds 95 per cent. 601 Holden dealerships nationwide employ over 20,000 people.

1966 The HR Holden is launched in April. GM-H is the first Australian manufacturer to fit seat belts on all models. Its vehicles provide class-leading levels of standard safety features. Investment in expansion continues. Vehicle assembly at the Acacia Ridge, Qld, plant commences. Australian-made torque converter production commences at Dandenong. Holden accounts for 56.2 per cent of all Australian motor vehicle exports. Max E. Wilson is appointed Managing Director.

1967 GM-H increases its market coverage and improves its market position with the launch of the first small Holden, the HB Torana. It takes its name from an Aboriginal word meaning 'to fly' and is based on the Vauxhall Viva. The 100,000th export Holden is produced. New nodular iron foundry, officially opened by Prime Minister Harold Holt, commences production at Fishermans Bend. Safety Design Test Centre at Lang Lang proving ground and automatic transmission plant announced; new electroplating plant opens at Woodville (SA).

1968 The HK Holden is introduced in January. The Holden Monaro and Brougham models make their debuts in July. Holden introduces the energy-absorbing steering column to the Australian market. Torana bodies are made in Australia for the first time. Work progresses on a V8 engine plant at Fishermans Bend.

1969 The two millionth Holden, a gold HK Brougham, is produced in March at Dandenong.

The HT Holden is launched in May. Australia's first automotive Safety Design Test Centre opens at Lang Lang proving ground, complete with barrier test and Hyge sled facilities. A V8 engine manufacturing plant opens at Fishermans Bend. The first Australian-made V8, developed at a cost of $22.5 million, is exhibited in the advanced, mid-engined Holden Hurricane experimental car. Automatic transmission production commences. The two millionth Holden is produced. GM-H moves into the small/medium market sector with the launch of the locally designed 6 and 4 cylinder LC Torana series, which includes the sporty Torana GTR.

The Seventies

1970 HG Holden is launched in July. Total annual Holden sales exceed 200,000. The performance-oriented GTR XU1 LC Torana, the first Holden with an aerodynamic spoiler, is introduced. A fibreglass-bodied Torana experimental model, called the GTR-X, is exhibited to gauge public reaction. A $16.5 million Tri-Matic automatic transmission plant, Holden's first, opens at Woodville, SA. Total export revenue rises to $42 million, almost double the 1968 figure. Seven overseas plants assemble Holden vehicles from Australian-manufactured components. A.C. (Bill) Gibbs is appointed Chairman & Managing Director.

1971 Safety upgrades across the Holden range see heater/demisters and rear seat belts fitted as standard. The HQ range is introduced in July, following the most ambitious product development program undertaken by GM-H since the first Holden. Holden's first luxury long-wheelbase derivative, the Statesman, is launched. The first car-based Holden cab/chassis light truck, commonly known as the 'one tonner', is announced as part of the HQ range, which boasts the largest-ever selection of 18 model variants. The GM-H national parts distribution complex opens at Dandenong (Vic).

1972 First official standards limiting exhaust gas carbon monoxide content come into effect on 1 January. Holden marks the 2,500,000th vehicle off the production line on 7 August and exports its 250,000th in October. Peter Brock’s Torana wins Bathurst (Hardie-Ferodo 500). ‘ Bedford by Isuzu’ trucks and commercials is launched, following link between GM and Isuzu Motors of Japan.

1973 Holden marks the 25th anniversary of manufacture in Australia in November. Damon Martin appointed Managing Director in June. A truck assembly plant began operations at Dandenong, Vic.

1974 Holden’s exports pass $400 million mark in January. GM-H instituted a program to reduce energy usage at all plants and the company begins an $18 million facilities investment program for SA and Victoria. The three millionth Holden is produced at Pagewood in June.

1975 Peter Brock and Brian Sampson’s Torana wins Bathurst (Hardie Ferodo 1000). In December, the registered status of Company changed from Proprietary Limited to Limited Company. General Motors-Holden’s Pty Ltd became General Motors-Holden’s Limited.

1976 Charles S (Chuck) Chapman took over as Managing Director in January. Holden announces a new four-cylinder engine manufacturing project. Bob Morris and John Fitzpatrick win Bathurst (Hardie-Ferodo) 1000 in a Torana. Holden celebrates the 50th anniversary of GM in Australia in November.

1977 Holden’s acclaimed Radial Tuned Suspension (RTS) system is added to Torana and full size Holdens. Holden expands the Torana range with the release of the A9X performance equipment package. This turns the 5.0-litre V8 Torana into one of the most potent road cars ever built in Australia. It has four-wheel disc brakes, a Holden first.

1978 Holden begins production of the ‘Starfire’ four-cylinder engine, the first locally designed and manufactured four-cylinder engine. Peter Brock and Jim Richards take out the Hardie-Ferodo 1000 at Bathurst in a Torana.

1979 A $25 million foundry modernisation program is begun at Fishermans Bend. Plans are announced for a $210 million four cylinder engine complex at Fishermans Bend. The Federal Government announces a motor industry export credit scheme, beginning in 1982 with credits at 5 per cent, rising to 7.5 per cent in 1985. Charles S. Chapman became first GM-H MD to be elected GM Vice President.

The Eighties

1980 GM-H becomes the first local manufacturer to publish passenger vehicle fuel consumption figures to Standards Association of Australia test procedures. Local assembly of Isuzu trucks began at Dandenong. Commodore makes its motor racing debut at Symmons Plains in Tasmania. GMH retained market leadership for 28th consecutive year and Commodore continued as Australia’s top-selling car.

1981 Holden launches its first 4WD commercial, the Isuzu-sourced Rodeo. The four millionth Holden, a VC Commodore SL/E, is produced at Dandenong in June and a $300 million four cylinder Family II engine plant is commissioned by PM Malcolm Fraser at Port Melbourne in November. Two thirds of Holden’s production is committed to export markets.

1982 Camira JB sedan, the first Holden front-wheel drive model, is produced at Dandenong and Acacia Ridge assembly plants.

1983 An Australian-developed Camira wagon is added to the vehicle line-up and components sets for it are exported. Peter Brock, Larry Perkins and John Harvey join forces to win the James Hardie 1000 in a Commodore.

1984 Holden embarks on a model sharing venture with Nissan, with the first model – a 1.5-litre Astra hatchback – launched. Built for Holden by Nissan Australia with some components manufactured by Holden, it represents the first example of local model sharing. Peter Brock launches the HDT VK SS Commodore and produces the SS Commodore Group 3 in conjunction with Holden.

1985 A single point tool body assembly shuttle is introduced at Holden’s Elizabeth plant. The all-new front drive Gemini RB sedan rolls off the line at Elizabeth, while the high-performance Commodore Group A V8 is unveiled.

1986 Holden is restructured into two companies: Holden’s Motor Company (HMC) and Holden’s Engine Company (HEC).

1987 Holden’s Motor Company servers links with HDT, while GM’s SunRaycer win the world’s first cross-continental solar race, run from Darwin to Adelaide. Racing champion John Harvey is the lead driver. Formation of a new joint venture company is announced by HMC Ltd, AMI/Toyota Ltd and Toyota Manufacturing Australia Ltd.

1988 Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) commences operation. It builds the fuel-injected V8 Holden VL SS Group A Supercar – a joint venture development by Holden and Tom Walkinshaw’s TWR. Holden exports the one millionth Family II four cylinder.

1989 VN Commodore range wins Wheels, Car Australia and Modern Motor 1988 Car of the Year awards. Model sharing with Toyota begins, leading to Toyota Lexcen (Commodore), Holden Nova (Corolla) and Holden Apollo (Camry). Nova and Apollo models replace Astra and Camira.

The Nineties

1990 Holden rejoins the big car field with VQ Statesman and Caprice – with the first independent rear suspension fitted to a locally designed and built large car. The five millionth Holden rolls down the production line.

1991 Total engine export earnings reach $1.9 billion, making Holden’s Engine Company one of Australia’s foremost exporters of value-added goods. Holden begins selling the Opel-sourced Calibra coupe – the first Holden to offer ABS brakes.

1992 Holden announced a three-year roadside service package for Calais, Statesman, Caprice and Calibra. All new Holden passenger cars receive an extended 50,000km/24 month warranty plus 100,000km/36 month powertrain coverage.

1993 Holden invests $100 million in plant and equipment to produce the VR Commodore and becomes the first manufacturer to offer a safety airbag on a locally built car.

1994 A $150 million state-of-the-art vehicle paint facility opens at the Elizabeth plant. Holden’s Engine Company exports its two millionth engine. The much loved Holden V8 celebrates its 25th anniversary, with more than 450,000 V8 engines built.

1995 Holden marks the 50th anniversary of the federal government’s approval for Holden to produce Australia’s first locally manufactured car. Producing 107,000 vehicles, the Elizabeth plant sets a new production record.

1996 Holden sponsors the Grand Prix Celebrity Challenge at the inaugural Melbourne F1 Grand Prix. An all-new Astra is launched into the competitive small-medium segment of the passenger car market, while Holden records a best-ever sales year, regaining the top-selling title.

1997 The new VT Commodore wins the 1997 Wheels Car of the Year award and Holden becomes the first local manufacturer to offer side impact airbags on an Australian-made car. Holden begins local production of the Vectra sedan and wagon at Elizabeth.

1999 Holden debuts the all-new WH Statesman and Caprice and the last Australian-made Holden V8 comes off the line. Holden begins exports of the LHD Statesman/Caprice models to the Middle East region. Holden leads Australia’s automotive market; Commodore is top-seller for the fourth consecutive year and the top-selling car of the decade.

21st Century

2000 Holden supplies a 3500 vehicle fleet for Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, and supports the torch relay. Plans are also announced for a new engine plant in Port Melbourne, Victoria. Holden celebrates record production at Elizabeth (133,016 vehicles) and Fishermans Bend (390,000 engines including the one-millionth V6) manufacturing plants.

2001 Holden builds its six millionth vehicle at Elizabeth and launches the new millennium Monaro sports coupe launched at the Sydney Motor Show. The new XC Barina is named 2001 Wheels Car of the Year.

2002 Holden announces the first major US export program with sales of the Monaro/Pontiac GTO coupes. Mark Skaife and Jim Richards win the 2002 Bathurst 1000 and a 7.0-litre Monaro wins the inaugural Bathurst 24-hour race.

2003 A $200 million redevelopment of Holden’s Fishermans Bend precinct is announced and the Holden Innovation R&D centre is opened. New vehicles introduced include a new generation Rodeo light commercial vehicle range and a turbocharged Astra SRi and Covertible.

2004 Holden and Saab join forces with the announcement of their integration into a single business entity. The all-new AH Astra hatch is released and the Torana TT36 hot hatch showcar shines at the Sydney International Motor Show. Holden produces the last ECOTEC V6 engine at Fishermans Bend.

2005 A special edition CV8Z Monaro marks the final chapter of Monaro production as the company celebrates 40 years of the General Assembly Plant at Elizabeth. Holden introduces the VZ One Tonner, Crewman Cross 6 and Adventra V6.

2006 The growing significance of Holden’s role within the GM family is reinforced when Holden announces an expanded GM global design role. GM Holden sets an all-time vehicle export record.

2007 The newly-launched VE Commodore is awarded Wheels Car of the Year award as a new export deal is announced – the SS Commodore is to be sold in the US as the Pontiac G8. VE Commodore and WM Caprice win Australian Design Awards and an all-new VE Ute range is launched. The Commodore is Australia’s top-selling car for the 12th straight year.

2008 In the year of Holden’s 60th anniversary, the company’s export success continued to grow with announcements of the Holden ute-based Pontiac G8 sport truck and a high-performance Pontiac GXP sedan heading to the US. The critically acclaimed 60th Anniversary Coupe 60 was revealed to a Melbourne Motor show audience in March. The third Commodore body style from the VE platform is launched as the Sportwagon mid-year.



In The Beginning - 1948-1958 - Holden's First Decade Of Australian Cars

GM Holden
28 May 2008
www.holden.com.au

This year, Holden will commemorate the 60th anniversary of Australia’s own car, the 48-215.

In the countdown to this significant anniversary, Holden will revisit the iconic models that cemented its place in Australian history, beginning with the first decade of Holden cars built for Australia’s unique conditions.

1948-1958 was a decade which saw Holden complete the challenge of building the nation’s first successfully mass-produced car and rapidly expand to meet the growing order bank. It was also when Holden began its first export program, shipping FJ models to New Zealand.

Sites for the Holden Proving Ground in Lang Lang, Victoria, Holden Service Parts Operations (HSPO) in Dandenong, Victoria, and Holden Vehicle Operations (HVO) in Elizabeth, South Australia, were all established in this era.

Click here to continue article



Stars Of The Sixties - 1963-1969 - Holden Rolls Out Landmark Models As Confidence Grows

GM Holden
30 June 2008
www.holden.com.au

This year, Holden will commemorate the 60th anniversary of Australia’s own car, the 48-215.

In the countdown to this significant anniversary, Holden will revisit the iconic models that cemented its place in Australian history.

Holden’s confidence continued to grow in the 1960s as it introduced new models and broke new sales records. Holden expanded beyond the local market, exporting cars in CKD form to more than 55 markets in 1966. More and more mechanical features were made available, including an imported V8 engine on HK.

Holden had its first taste of victory at Bathurst in the 1960s and introduced nameplates, such as Kingswood, Torana and Monaro, which are now amongst the most recognised in Australian automotive history.

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All Change In The Seventies - 1971-1978 - Holden Reinvents Itself In An Evolving World

GM Holden
31 July 2008
www.holden.com.au

This year, Holden will commemorate the 60th anniversary of Australia’s own car, the 48-215.

In the countdown to this significant anniversary, Holden is revisiting the iconic models that cemented its place in Australian history.

The 1970s saw continued success for Holden, launching a succession of landmark vehicles, and in 1972, Holden reached a new milestone when it exported its 250,000th vehicle.

After 25 straight years of market leadership, Holden embarked on a major change of direction with the launch of the VB Commodore in 1978. A

smaller car than its predecessor, the Commodore quickly established itself as Australia’s top-selling car, fending off increased competition from imported vehicles.

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Evolution Of An Industry - 1981-1990 - Holden Reaches A New Level Of Sophistication

GM Holden
28 August 2008
www.holden.com.au

This year, Holden will commemorate the 60th anniversary of Australia’s own car, the 48-215.

In the countdown to this significant anniversary, Holden is revisiting the iconic models that cemented its place in Australian history.

In the 1980s, Holden’s world changed dramatically. In what proved to be a particularly turbulent era for the company, Holden partnered with other automotive manufacturers and shared engineering solutions as it adapted to a rapidly changing market place.

On the back of the first big oil shock in the 1970s, Holden introduced the smaller VB Commodore, based on a European design. The company invested $110 million in Commodore’s design and development, with the drivetrain, suspension and steering developed locally by Holden engineers.

Commodore would kick-start a new era of cars specifically designed for the decade we know as “the eighties”.

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Right On Target - 1993-2000 - Holden Celebrates Domestic Achievements & New Export Success

GM Holden
26 September 2008
www.holden.com.au

On 29 November 2008, Holden will commemorate the 60th anniversary of Australia’s own car, the 48-215.

In the countdown to this significant anniversary, Holden is revisiting the iconic models that cemented its place in Australian history.

After a period of change in the 1980s, Holden emerged a stronger and more innovative company in the 1990s.

Responding to a shifting marketplace, Holden introduced new products armed with advanced safety features and class-leading vehicle dynamics, propelling Commodore to Australia’s top selling car for the decade (1990-1999).

This included the introduction of the first driver airbag in an Australian-made passenger vehicle in 1993 and the first locally produced car with a side impact airbag in 1998.

Throughout this period the company’s export program also gathered strength as the VT Commodore went into production. Holden began exporting left-hand-drive Commodores to the Middle East and Brazil in 1998, while also continuing to successfully export its four-cylinder Family II engine. In 1997, Holden Engine Operations (HEO) generated more than $2 million in export earnings each working day.

And not only did Holden export cars, engines and automotive components, it also began exporting its engineering expertise. In 1997, Holden became the Product Engineering Centre for GM’s Asia Pacific Region.

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The Story So Far - 2000-2008 - From Olympic Dreams To Billion Dollar Baby

GM Holden
29 October 2008
www.holden.com.au

On 29 November 2008, Holden will commemorate the 60th anniversary of Australia’s own car, the 48-215.

In the countdown to this significant anniversary, Holden is revisiting the iconic models that cemented its place in Australian history. Since entering the new millennium the Holden Commodore has maintained its position as Australia’s best selling passenger car.

Commodore has led the country’s sales charts for the past 12 years and is on track to retain that title in 2008.

Last month, a total of 4462 Commodores were sold, boosted by 1448 Sportwagons. This puts Commodore more than 700 vehicles ahead of Australia’s next largest seller. Over time Commodore has earned an enviable reputation with Australian motorists and overseas customers as the spearhead of a successful export program.

In Holden’s 60th year, it delivers about 50 per cent of its world -class cars to overseas markets including North America, South America, the United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Korea, New Zealand and Fiji.

From the seven million vehicles produced by Holden since 1948, more than 780,000 have been exported.

Over the past decade these export levels have increased, due largely to Commodore’s ongoing improvements and its status as a vehicle of international standards.

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Happy 60th anniversairy Holden :)

Btw, I heard then the 48-215 was derivated from a cancelled Chevy compact project and how much Holden modify it to their specifications?
 

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Just 40 more years!
 

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Just 40 more years!
Actually Holden as a business has been around since 1852 making saddles for the transport industry of the time.

In 1905 James Holden's son Edward joined the company with an eye towards the new fangled automobiles. By 1917 after WWI they had graduated from auto upholstery and motor-cycle sidecars to full-scale car body production.

From 1924, Holden became the exclusive supplier of car bodies for GM in Australia, although they had built Fords before Ford opened their own factory in Geelong Victoria.

In 1931, General Motors purchased the entire business and formed General Motors–Holden's Ltd.

So the 60 year celebration is actually just celebrating 60 years of Holden making it's own unique car sold under it's own name of Holden and not as a Chevy or Buick etc.



;)
 

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Happy 60th anniversairy Holden :)

Btw, I heard then the 48-215 was derivated from a cancelled Chevy compact project and how much Holden modify it to their specifications?
This is the 1938 Chevrolet Y-195-19 which was the basis of some of the mechanicals of the 48-215:


It's obvious that it has been considerably reworked from a prewar design into the postwar Holden. Although it was unibody, which every Holden since has basically been. The Chev motor had splash-fed mains, the Holden engine was all pressure-fed bottom end and cam bearings (Holden had done a lot of aero-engine making in WWII). The old 'Grey' motor lasted in racing for decades as getting good power out of them was easy and the FX-FJ were a light car so they remained competitive up to the sixties.

This is the Project 2008 design that the Australian project team headed by Sir Lawrence Hartnett wanted to build - remember, this is 1946. This is a fullsize working proto (first Holden concept car?) built on a Willys Overland chassis.



The two of them have obviously been combined in the finished product. 48-215 means '1948, GM-Holden (21) and sedan (5). Later versions included the 50-2106 which is 1950 (actually Jan 51) 21 - GM-H, 06, coupe Utility. I have one of these in pieces, undergoing restoration in my driveway.



The Holden was superior for rough unmade roads and outback dust to small four cylinder English cars, which tended to overheat or die quickly, couldn't carrry a load and were uncomfortable to drive distances, and the FX was not as expensive to buy or run as the larger six and V8 American cars, remembering fuel rationing lasted until the 60's in Oz. The Holden had high ground clearance and soft, long travel supensionl which allowed good all-road capability.

The original 2150cc (132.5cu in) OHV inline six was smooth; and powerful enough to cruise at 60mph all day and return 30mpg, and with simple maintenance could rack up big mileages without seeing a workshop - the entire car could be maintained by a blacksmith or farmer! Annecdotally, a 50's Vaxuhall six crankshaft will drop straight in - Holden assembled Australasian Vauxhalls until 1950ish.

The car had 15" steel wheels, double A-arm independent front suspension and 4-wheel hydraulic brakes. At one stage they were making only 5,000 a year with orders for 18,000!

A FX Holden was entered in the 1953 Monte-Carlo Rally as a private entry, and not only made the final 98-car field (out of 404 starters, 356 finishers) for the special test stages without losing a point it was ninth overall after the special tests (tied with F1 champion Stirling Moss in a Sunbeam-Talbot). The cars that beat it were an Allard, Porsche, Jaguar, two Ford V8s, Sunbeam-Talbot, Riley and two more Jags - none of them were family sedans and all worth considerably more! It was looking at a giant-killing finish until an unfortunate misunderstanding on the 46-mile mountain regularity trial where the team mistook warning signals for a control point sign and left the course dropped it to 64th.

The three blokes driving were racing drivers, but Holden had no input to the entry and two of the three had never rallied at night or driven on snow. The standard car did the 2100 miles without a bolt being undone and at the end was timed at ten miles an hour faster than Holden advertised! (careful tuning no doubt).

This is the sort of car they were racing, a J2X Le Mans Allard like the winner:
 

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It's always a great story the 48-215.. More then just hard work on that car. The story's surrounding the fight from then the SA government to fund it was amazing. It truly was an Australian car no matter it's full origins.
 

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It's an ironical time to consider what might have been if GMNA had have built the 48-215 themselves and succeeded with a unitary (monocoque) design instead of going down the track of BOF.

They would likely have made cars that were not only lighter, safer and more fuel efficient, but would have avoided the whole '70's behemoths, as unitary design does not lend itself to long low with huge overhang shapes.

And unitary designs do not lend themselves to design change every two years, but more like the 7 years of the Europeans. This would have seen GM spend more design effort on refining and perfecting the vehicles throughout their model life, rather than discarding them for the next new look.

GM would likely have made cars more like the large Benz and BMW's of the 70's as their family cars, and the door for the Japanese to step through during the fuel crisis would not have been so wide open and CAFÉ may never have been thought up.

History may have been a lot different………..:rolleyes:




;)
 

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It's actually interesting: Holden's basically been making the same car since 1948. A six-cylinder 5-seater-plus-gear vehicle that will comfortably seat five, drive them at a good average speed with a degree of comfort over some pretty poor terrain, about 5 metres long, wheelbase 2.6-3.0 metres, and with a track of about 1.75-1.8 meters. The power in that time has gone from 37kw to 180, gears from three to four and manual to auto. And they'll both get about 9-10l/100km on a gentle 60mph cruise. Weight though, has almost doubled, as has engine capacity. And fuel back then was basically white spirit with some tetra-ethyl to keep the valves alive, lucky to be any stronger than cat's piss.
 

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Probably the best car of its time for Australian conditions.
The unitary construction and small six was beneficial in giving a good power to weight, good economy & performance; also a good room to size ratio.
The Y 195 and the Opel Kapitan (and precursors) showed that a six could be a better option than a similar performance four. For one thing the six allowed the use of a lighter drive train (driveshafts? tailshaft? ) than the four. (I don't understand why, perhaps by being revved lower than the four?)
GM also put a highly regarded designer onto the project, Frank Hershey (? from memory) - he also did a Caddy (48 from memory). The Holden was good looking in a conservative mode, as his the Australian method.
 

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Probably the best car of its time for Australian conditions.
The unitary construction and small six was beneficial in giving a good power to weight, good economy & performance; also a good room to size ratio.
The Y 195 and the Opel Kapitan (and precursors) showed that a six could be a better option than a similar performance four. For one thing the six allowed the use of a lighter drive train (driveshafts? tailshaft? ) than the four. (I don't understand why, perhaps by being revved lower than the four?)
GM also put a highly regarded designer onto the project, Frank Hershey (? from memory) - he also did a Caddy (48 from memory). The Holden was good looking in a conservative mode, as his the Australian method.
A yes, the 'competition' - Standard Vanguard with 4 cylinder wet liner engine (same family engine as used in the Ferguson(?) Tractor) - the first model had an on-the-tree gear lever operated by the right hand but it was a nightmare because the fulcrum mechanism would jam every now and then.

They were spacious - can't remember if they had 'suicide' doors for the rear seats.

The engines of course evolved to Triumph TR2, TR3, TR3A sports cars.

There were the Austins A30, A40 , Wolseley 4/? (not 80), Morris Oxford also competing.

Mike
 

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Still remember my original EH that i learned to drive in, 3sp auto 179HP motor in it and that annoying wind visor on the outside, you could see the speedo drop 10MPH as a truck went past you lol it, topped out at 97MPH :) god i wished i still had that car, i think the EH was the best looking of all the older Holden cars.
 

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It's an ironical time to consider what might have been if GMNA had have built the 48-215 themselves and succeeded with a unitary (monocoque) design instead of going down the track of BOF.

They would likely have made cars that were not only lighter, safer and more fuel efficient, but would have avoided the whole '70's behemoths, as unitary design does not lend itself to long low with huge overhang shapes.
And no one would have bought them. Like it or not, we Americans at the time loved our gas-guzzlers, as gas was cheap, and wanted the newest of the new, hence the yearly changes.

The small manufacturer, Holden, that went with unitary in 1948 was forced to merge with Nash, and the unitary body was dropped. Later on it was picked back up again by Chrysler in 1960, and their cars were by no means frugal when it came to gasoline. They did handle well comparatively though, thanks to the torsion bar suspension.


As for the OP, Australia should be proud. Her products from Holden are looked at with envy over here, and exported across the globe, often as the most exciting and loved GM products available.
 

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And no one would have bought them. Like it or not, we Americans at the time loved our gas-guzzlers, as gas was cheap, and wanted the newest of the new, hence the yearly changes.

The small manufacturer, Holden, that went with unitary in 1948 was forced to merge with Nash, and the unitary body was dropped. Later on it was picked back up again by Chrysler in 1960, and their cars were by no means frugal when it came to gasoline. They did handle well comparatively though, thanks to the torsion bar suspension.


As for the OP, Australia should be proud. Her products from Holden are looked at with envy over here, and exported across the globe, often as the most exciting and loved GM products available.
Holden? maybe Hudson?
 

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A yes, the 'competition' - Standard Vanguard with 4 cylinder wet liner engine (same family engine as used in the Ferguson(?) Tractor) - the first model had an on-the-tree gear lever operated by the right hand but it was a nightmare because the fulcrum mechanism would jam every now and then.

They were spacious - can't remember if they had 'suicide' doors for the rear seats.

The engines of course evolved to Triumph TR2, TR3, TR3A sports cars.

There were the Austins A30, A40 , Wolseley 4/? (not 80), Morris Oxford also competing.

Mike
Mike,
I actually mean all cars available at the time in Oz. Really only the Pugs that were as good for Oz and the had the same small engine stigma. The big Chevs, Fords, Dodges etc were really too heavy and too extravagent in engine for most aussies.

OT
BTW I wouldn't mind having a Triumph stashed away.
Now that is a Couldabeen Champion. Coulda Shoulda been a real BMW competitor, at least upto the 5 series. Assuming modern competent editons had continued...... Dolomite = 1; 2500 = 3; bigger saloon = 5; add TR plus Stag, throw in a X3/X5 competitor = happy days.
 

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My older brother had a Triumph 2000 as his first car. We all loved it (because he was the first amongst us to actually have a car). He loved it to bits....even after rear ending a tow ball adorned XF Falcon. It had a nasty overbite for the last few years of its life.

Still, that sound at full throttle was awesome.
 

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Top Gear's test of the Omega vs the XT Falcon the other night was interesting. In acceleration, the Falcon was a few car lengths ahead - not streets ahead. And the Commodore actually outstopped it, by a car length. I wish they'd done the slalom test with ESC off. The Falcon was about two seconds faster around the track, easily accounted for by 10% more power and 20% more gears.

Really, it was interesting how close they were - pretty much like they've always been.

It'd be interesting to repeat that excercise with the SS, XR8 and XR6T. I think it'd be close.
 
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